On Monday, The National Investigation Agency (NIA) confirmed that it has identifed the vehicle which was used in the Pulwama attack which killed 40 CRPF soilders. The Agency said the vehicle’s owner, Sajjad Bhat of Bijbehara in district Anantnag of Jammu and Kashmir, was directly involved in the attack.
NIA spokesman Alok Mittal said “Bhat was missing for the last few days but stressed the vehicle, of which he was the eighth in the long line of owners, gave them key clues into the worst terror strike in the Valley in three decades of insurgency. He has reportedly joined Jaish-e-Mohammed.”
“He was a student of Siraj-ul-Uloom (a madarsa), Shopian. A raid was conducted by an NIA team at his house with the help of J&K Police on February 23. However, Bhat was found not present in his house and thereafter has been evading arrest . He has reportedly now joined JeM. A photograph to this effect has also appeared in social media where he is seen holding weapons,” Mittal added.
Mittal said on Tuesday that investigators pieced together remnants of the car used by the suicide bomber, JeM operative Aadil Ahmad Dar of Kakapora in south Kashmir, from the scene of crime in the Lethpora area. Dar is believed to have been driving the vehicle alone, he added.
“A Maruti Eeco vehicle having chassis number MA3ERLF1SOO183735 and engine G12BN164140 was sold to Md Jaleel Ahmed Haqani, a resident of Heaven colony, Anantnag in the year 2011. It subsequently changed hands seven times and finally reached Sajjad Bhat,” said Mittal.
Investigators said pieces of vehicle were spread over a radius of around 150 metres and painstakingly collected by the forensic experts working with a team from vehicle manufacturer Maruti Suzuki.
“Most of the vehicle parts are generally not numbered, but they can be identified by number of lots in which they were manufactured. Once the lots were identified, the manufacturer checked its computerised data to find out about the lots of vehicles and where they went for sale,” said an investigator.
After identifying the lots of vehicles, the agency zeroed in on a couple of vehicles that were sent to dealers in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Initially, we suspected one vehicle that may have been used in the attack but when our team checked the owner, he was found to be using that Maruti Eeco. So, the exercise continued till we identified the vehicle used in the attack,” Mittal added.